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A friend you can count on...well, sometimes

05/19/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

QUESTION

Dear Irene:

My friend sent me a message on Facebook (a personal message, not where it could be read by everyone). She said: Hey, your birthday is coming up Friday, what do you want to do? She said she wanted us to do something, just her and me. She said her boyfriend didn't want her to go out but she said we were going anyway.

This was on Wednesday. I changed my plans with my parents (who were going to take me out) on Friday night. On Thursday night, my friend and I texted (on the phone) about where we might go and said goodnight at about 10PM.

Friday comes and I don't hear anything from her until 4:30PM when I noticed I had a missed call on my cell phone (I was shopping and didn't hear it). She didn't leave a message so I texted her and told her I was sorry I missed her call and that I would be home shortly. Never received a reply. Waited and waited to hear from her and again nothing.

At 7:20PM, she sent me a text message saying Happy Birthday and that was it!! I noticed later that night, after her boyfriend went to work at 9:15PM, she was on Facebook talking to her boyfriend for a minute. Needless to say I was very upset. We have been friends since 2002 and she has ditched me two other times in the past, but this time I really thought we would do something.

I don't understand why she did all that if she wasn't going to do anything. Why not just tell me happy birthday and leave it at that? My parents were mad, too, because they changed their plans because of it. I feel really stupid. I haven't talked to her since. She sent me a Facebook "heart" but I haven't opened it and she sent me a text message saying her daughter made cheerleader and then a text message saying: Thank you for making me smile this year. I still haven't replied.

She really upset me this time. Should I wait for an apology of some kind or just start talking to her again. What if she invites me down for the weekend? Should I decline? Help?

Signed,
Phoebe

ANSWER

Dear Phoebe:

Although this friend has disappointed you in the past, it was particularly insensitive of her to let you down on your special day. Even if she had a valid reason (for example, illness or a last minute crisis), she should have apologized immediately. Yes, I agree, it would have been far better if she had avoided this fiasco and just wished you a happy birthday rather than disappoint you and leave you hanging.

If you want to save the friendship, you can't ignore what happened. You have to have a heart-to-heart and let her know that this behavior is unacceptable. If you try to brush it under the rug, your hurt feelings will likely poison the relationship.

Whether or not your friend can change her ways is a big question. Even if you enjoy her company when you're together, you may not be able to count on her keeping her word. If this is the case, think carefully about whether you really want to maintain the friendship and are willing to adjust your expectations accordingly. It might be helpful to write the pros and cons down on paper to help you make a decision.

I hope this helps.

Best,
Irene

Have a question about female friendships? Send it to The Friendship Doctor.

Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Her new book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, was recently published by Overlook Press. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog and at PsychologyToday.com.

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